Netflix’s aggressive expansion has ticked off a lot of entertainment veterans, leaving others scrambling to keep up. Its latest foray — to offer a new original stand-up comedy special every week — bucks tradition yet again.
The Comedy Network, HBO and YouTube have been the go-tos for stand-up specials. And in late 2011, Louis C.K. took control of his own stand-up, selling inexpensive digital copies of his specials on his website. He praised the model but said he reserved “the right to go back on all of this and sign a massive deal with a company that pays me fat coin.”
That company is Netflix.
Yes, he’s still selling on his own site, but there’s a lot of his stand-up on Netflix now, too, including an original special. He joins Amy Schumer, Dave Chappelle, Chris Tucker, Aziz Ansari and Tracy Morgan, all of whom have their own Netflix specials.
Staying Alive, Morgan’s special released last Tuesday, marks his first since the 2014 car accident he was involved in. The crash killed his friend and fellow comedian James McNair, and he has said the accident is off-limits in terms of jokes.
Morgan said he used comedy to help him recover.
“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity. Listen, I was in a tragic accident. It was horrible. To walk away from it, to be able to talk about it, I feel very fortunate. I do,” he told CBC News. “If you don’t laugh, you gonna cry.”
Morgan said he’s in good company comedy-wise at Netflix, listing off Chappelle, Rock and Schumer.
“I think Netflix gave me the freedom to tell my story,” he said. “I’m happy. I’m happy about that.”
‘The reach is enormous’
The majority of Netflix’s stand-up talent is American, but Mark Breslin, the founder and CEO of Yuk Yuk’s, said he expects that to change “once they strip mine the topsoil of American talent.”
There are a handful of Canadians who already have Netflix specials — Katherine Ryan, a Canadian comic who lives in Britain, has In Trouble, while Norm Macdonald just released Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery, and there’s Russell Peters’s Notorious.
Breslin thinks it’s a great model as it could give lesser-known talent the opportunity for major exposure.
“People with a sizeable podcast following can get a special,” he said. “The reach is enormous for Netflix.”
Along with the exposure, Breslin figures Netflix’s appeal for comedians is what the company pays. “I think you get a lot of money up front, which is a good thing.”
Netflix content head ‘huge comedy fan’
Sarah Silverman is one of the comedians with an upcoming Netflix special — it’s called A Speck of Dust and is out at the end of May. She said Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer for Netflix, is a huge comedy fan and that trickles down through the company.
“You kind of get the feeling you’re working with people who love comedy, which is a huge plus,” she said. “You’d be surprised how many people in the business of comedy are not fans.”
She said no topic is off-limits “as long as the joke is funny enough to carry the weight of whatever it’s talking about.” Her special covers a lot of ground — she kicks it off with a joke about U.S. President Donald Trump.
“You know, it’s hard to make fun of something that’s already a f—— joke,” she told CBC News.
Brash it may be, but she’s not shied away from talking politics in the past. During the 2016 campaign, she backed Bernie Sanders as the Democratic presidential candidate before shifting to Hillary Clinton.
“People say, ‘Why don’t you stick to what you do?’ And I go ‘Well I’m a citizen and you’re a citizen, too. You should be involved as well.”
Source : cbc